IM Graphite News in Brief 4 – 10 December

By Laura Syrett, Albert Li
Published: Thursday, 10 December 2015

Jien Nickel to help develop Luobei graphite mine; StratMin breaks even; Mozambique calls for better power infrastructure to support graphite projects.

China’s Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co. has signed a cooperation agreement with China Railway Resources Co. to assist in developing a graphite mining project in Luobei, in Heilongjiang province in northeast China.

According to an announcement on 7 December, Jien Nickel plans to purchase partial or total stock rights in China Railway’s subsidiary business, Yunshan Graphite Co., with total value of Chinese renminbi (Rmb) 300m ($46.6m*). Once Jien Nickel has acquired the stock rights, China Railway will assist Yunshan Graphite to obtain a mining certificate and approval for its mining, processing and further processing projects and to complete related environmental assessments.

In order to secure the support of the local Luobei government, Jien Nickel has agreed to invest a minimum of Rmb 2bn ($310.7m) in Yunshan Graphite and its new project, with phase one funding totalling not less than Rmb 600m ($93.2m).

Jien Nickel is a listed company in Jilin province and is based close to the Luobei graphite mines. China Railway is a state-owned company and the biggest construction company in Asia. Their cooperation with Yushan Graphite is expected to aid the consolidation and development of further graphite processing capacity in Luobei.

UK AIM-listed StratMin Global Resources Plc has achieved "operational level breakeven" at the company’s Loharano graphite mine in Madagascar.

StratMin is currently operating its plant 24 hours a day and is progressing towards 6,000 tpa production capability. The company said it sold 478 tonnes graphite from the period September to November 2015, for total revenues of £195,000 ($295,652).

The company has an investment arrangement with ASX-listed Bass Metals Ltd via its subsidiary, Graphmada Mauritius and last week StratMin said it has received £277,885 from Bass to date.

Bass has committed to fully funding the first investment tranche of £500,000 by 31 December 2015 and a second tranche of £1.5m by 31 March 2016. Completion of the first tranche delivers Bass a 6.25% interest in Graphmada Mauritius, with completion of the second tranche taking this interest to 25%.

Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique is estimated to contain around 1bn tonnes graphite, according to information released during the First International Conference on Value Chains of the Gas, Graphite and Agrarian Industries in the port city of Pemba earlier this week.

A report on the meeting published by Mozambican daily newspaper, Noticias, said that conference speakers drew attention to the need for Mozambique to improve the reliability of electricity supply to graphite developers in the country.

In Cabo Delgado, graphite occurs in the districts of Balama and Ancuabe, with a number of companies including ASX-listedSyrah Resources Ltd and Triton Minerals Ltd, Germany’s AMG GK Graphit Kropfmuehl and unlisted Frontier Minerals, exploring deposits in these areas.

In Canada, Zenyatta Ventures Ltd and its partner Ballard Power Systems Inc. have issued a progress report on their efforts to utilise graphite from Zenyatta’s Albany graphite project in Ontario in the assembly of membranes for electrodes used in fuel cells.

The membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is a critical component of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuels cell and must meet exacting performance standards for the fuel cell to perform properly, Zenyatta explained.

Ballard recently prototyped gas diffusion layers (GDLs), which form part of the MEA, using both Albany graphite samples and benchmark (synthetic) graphite material, which is currently the main material used in this application. Both GDLs were constructed using Ballard's proprietary process and, to date, all the properties of the GDL sample made with Zenyatta graphite were essentially identical to those of the benchmark GDL in all the functional tests that have been completed, Zenyatta said.

The GDL samples made by Ballard will now be tested in a fuel cell stack to characterise baseline fuel cell performance and further assess the viability of Albany graphite in realistic operating environments.

Canada Strategic Metals Inc. and Lomiko Metals Inc. have confirmed near surface, high grade flake graphite results from samples taken during the companies’ last series of infill drilling on the main zone of their jointly held La Loutre property in Quebec.

Notable results included a 21.5 metre intersection grading at 11.56% C, 57.95 metres at 3.36% C, including 6.1 metres at 13.66% C and 28.75 metres at 4.44% C.

The La Loutre property consists of contiguous claim blocks totalling approximately 2,867.3 ha (28.67km2).

TSX-V-listed Saint Jean Carbon Inc. has signed a commercial contract for the design and development of advanced graphene material.

Saint Jean’s graphene, which is made from natural graphite extracted from the company’s graphite properties in Canada and Sri Lanka, will be added to a resin type material by the deal partner, the name of which was not disclosed.

The contract, which runs until the end of February 2016, will generate the first revenue for Saint Jean and entails design and engineering work as well as full-scale prototypes for in-product testing. The company believes this is the first of up to 15 contracts it has in the pipeline for its graphene.

Nouveau Monde Mining Enterprises Inc. has reported complete drilling results for the southeast and southwest zones as well as partial results for the west zone at its Matawinie graphite property in the Saint-Michel-des-Saints area of Quebec.

The results indicated grades of up to 4.65% C over intersections of up to 156.5 metres.

The exploration programme involved extensive trenching and drilling totalling over 10,000 metres and was initiated in June on Matawinie’s Tony claim block. The objective of the work is to define before year-end an NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate for the property’s southeast and southwest zones.

An estimate for the west zone is scheduled for Q1 2016. A preliminary economic assessment of these three mineralised zones is expected during the first half of 2016.

In Sri Lanka, Elcora Resources Corp. has progressed to advanced underground drilling work to define 12 historically worked veins at depth and to find additional veins at the past-producing Ragedara vein graphite mine. Historical peak production from these 12 veins was 18,000 tpa before the mine was abandoned, according to Elcora.

Drilling at two locations discovered three veins ranging between 15cm and 24cm in width within 10 metres of Ragedara’s old workings. An additional drilling location is currently being exploited at a 38 metre depth to pass under the historical working of the mine. This has already resulted in locating five veins with widths of 66cm, 40cm, 20cm, 20cm and 15cm. 

Additional holes are being drilled in order to further define these veins and the current shaft is being deepened in order to provide access for future work.

In Australia, Brisbane-based Sayona Mining Ltd has intersected broad zones of graphite mineralisation at the Corkwood zone of its East Kimberley project in Western Australia.

A total of 17 holes covering 1,668 metres were been drilled with each hole intersecting visual graphite mineralisation. Sayona said that intercepts of up to 58 metres downhole widths have been logged, with multiple zones of mineralisation present in some prospect areas.

Following the confirmation of graphite mineralisation from the initial drilling, the company has mobilised a second drilling rig to accelerate completion of the programme and is aiming to drill a total 2,500-3,500 metres, weather permitting. 

Samples from the drill holes are being dispatched for analysis and the first results are anticipated in January 2016.

In financing news, TSX-V-listed Eagle Graphite Inc. has completed the non-brokered private placement for aggregate gross proceeds of Canadian dollar (C$) $245,000 ($180,000). Pursuant to the placement, Eagle issued 1,000,000 flow-through common shares at a price of C$0.06/share and 3,700,000 units at a price of $0.05/unit.

The net proceeds from the placement will be used to fund exploration work and for general and administrative purposes.

Triton Minerals has extended the closing date and revised payment arrangements of a recently launched entitlements offer, aimed at funding the development of the company’s graphite properties in Mozambique.

The closing date for the arrangements will now be 14 January 2016 and the payment date will be 31 January 2016.

Last week, Triton parted company with its CEO, Brad Boyle. Garth Higgo has been appointed as the new CEO and will be responsible for the management of the company, along with Triton's technical director, Alfred Gillman.

In graphene news, a new partnership between the UK’s University of Manchester and the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials (BIAM), a leading Chinese aviation company, aims to develop lighter, stronger and possibly conductive graphene-enhanced parts for aeroplanes, high speed trains and other industrial equipment.

The partnership seeks to promote R&D into graphene reinforced aluminium matrix composites areas and speed up the application of graphene in the aviation industry and other sectors.

Finally, US-based Graphene 3D Lab Inc. has arranged a non-brokered private placement of up to 3.4m units priced at C$0.25 each to raise up to C$850,000 in gross proceeds.

The cash will be used primarily to expand the company’s business and for general working capital purposes.

*Conversions made December 2015